The Brown Creeper

March 29, 2017

Photo by Sandy Selesky

Certainly well named, the Brown Creeper fits the bill; their streaked brown upperparts provide camouflage as they “creep” upward on a tree trunk. Both the male and female look alike; they prefer mature forests with a mix of deciduous trees and evergreens where they nest. During the winter months and into late March and early April you have a good chance of finding one at Mount Auburn. More often than not they will be associating with a mixed flock of chickadees, titmice and nuthatches.

The Brown Creeper is one of the earliest migrants in the first weeks of spring at Mount Auburn, its protective coloring, as well as being a quiet and a solitary bird, can easily escape detection from the birder.

A group of creepers, if you ever see a group is called a “spiral” of creepers. The behavior of the creeper is unique, beginning at the bottom of a tree the Brown Creeper slowly climbs upward in a spiral as it methodically searches for insects, their eggs and larvae, and once the creeper reaches the top, it flies down to the base of the next tree and repeats the spiral.

The bill of the Brown Creeper is long and de-curved making it easy to search out insects hidden in the bark. The Creeper also has long curved claws and a long stiff tail similar to a woodpecker which makes it easy to brace them to the trunk.

Brown Creeper by Bob Stymeist

They can be seen anywhere at Mount Auburn, though Consecration Dell is more like the areas where these birds breed; they build their nests into crevices of tree trunks usually where the bark is loose. They have a pretty powerful song for such a small bird. Frank Bolles, an ornithologist from Arlington, said in 1891 : “While watching and admiring these gay survivors of the winter [two butterflies and a moth], we heard a Brown Creeper sing. It was a rare treat. The song is singularly strong, full of meaning and charm, especially when the size of its tiny performer is remembered.”




About the Author: Bob Stymeist

Bob Stymeist is Bird Observer's Bird Sightings Compiler and a regular bird walk leader for the Friends of Mount Auburn. View all posts by Bob Stymeist →

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